Venture capital funding for global solar was $207 million in Q3 of 2013, according to a new report published by the Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy communications and consulting firm. This total was an increase of $18 million from the previous quarter. PV companies received the most funding of the solar technologies that were invested in, to the tune of $57 million.
Also for the third quarter, there was an increase in the number of VCs engaging in funding to 35, up from 27 in Q2.
The top five VC ventures in the third quarter were:
1. Solexel with $39.9 million raised
2. eSolar’s $22 million
3. Clean Power Finance’s $20 million in funding
4. HelioVolt’s $19 million
5. Dyesol’s $16 million.
The $39.9 raised by Solexel was the largest amount by far. They make high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells and modules. Some of the investors that contributed were Northgate Capital, GSV Capital, KCPB Holdings, SunPower, Technology Partners, and DAG Ventures.
Announced project funding deals so far this year total 106, but last year they were just 84.
Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, commented, ”Overall market conditions for the solar sector continue to improve. Project funding and M&A activity were at record levels reflecting an improved demand outlook. Taking advantage of rising market values, we also saw significant financing activity among publicly-traded companies this quarter.”
One of the peculiar aspects of this story is the relative lack of press about it. Meaning that it doesn’t have the same intense focus found with the political football playing associated with a Solyndra. Disaster stories about renewable energy mesh well with preconceived beliefs about the difficulty of transitioning towards clean energy sources. The information in the new report, however, shows a positive trend for businesses that are willing to remain open to new possibilities. VCs support technological change and in this case the societal impacts could be very large.
It’s also interesting to see diversity among the investors, rather than the more monopolistic lack of it in the petroleum industry. Another notable absence in the media is the fact that investing in these solar companies helps create jobs in a difficult economic period. For example, last year it was reported that Solexel was looking to have 100 employees.